They were also running TV adverts at the time claiming they had detector vans about, and if you didn't have a licence you'd be caught. I did some research at the time, and it seemed that evidence from a detector van had never been submitted as evidence in court cases for those without a licence.
It didn't take long to realise in the age of databases, it's easier just to send out scary letters to all address without a registered licence and hope there will be some 'conversion rate'. The effort required to actually chase on this seemed disproportional to the benefits.
And for those wondering, I did have a licence, it's just the address the BBC had for the flat was subtly different to the one on the bit of paper. I had hoped that they would follow up with a more detailed investigation, so I could see how it worked and ask about the vans, but they never did.
I am an ex-pat and as an adult I am have become quite disillusioned with the UK and glad to have gotten out a decade ago. I miss nothing about England except my friends, and I'd feel sorry for them, but they all seem mostly happy with life.
Paying a license to have a TV (and it's assumed you must watch TV), opt in porn on the internet, CCTV everywhere, braying in parliament, not to mention the whole Brexit shit-show, I find little to admire about the UK.
It turns out the better half of Europe has TV licences in one form or another - but for some reason, we never hear about them. When the UK has to fund a state broadcaster, it's dystopian. When everyone else does it, it's business as usual.
( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Television_licence )
The real cancer of UK society is the tabloid press, now mutating into socialmedia-powered viral linkfarms. The BBC is absolutely fine.
Or one of my favourite Monthy Python sketches:
"How not to be seen":
But you're right, it is present in multiple countries, I think Germany and France just turned it into a household fee
It's RTS 1, RTS 2, RTS 3, RTS HD (which is redundant since the 3 channels are already in Full HD), and then RTS 24/7, RTS Drama, RTS Archive, RTS Music, RTS Life, RTS Kids, RTS Music 2, RTS VOD and RTS SVOD, RTS [something I can't translate] (all names are translated from Serbian).
The TV service is the only one with HD terrestrial broadcasting, and yet it's production quality is absolute garbage (I mean literally, the video quality is absolutely terrible, I'm not even talking about the topics they deal with).
Basically, a money sink and waste of time. People who have SBB (United Group) watch N1 (CNN affiliate) in Full HD (with 30 Mbps bitrate, compared to 4 Mbps for RTS 1 HD).
People who don't have SBB cable, are stuck with the low level garbage channels from our state broadcaster.
to which my response was "sod off", and they did
repeat again every 5 years
as someone who hasn't watched broadcast TV in years (or iplayer): I'm not worried
On the hand, it feels unintuitive that there’s now no way to opt out. But I’m not sure how we delineate universal taxes (eg, my taxes pay for schools but I don’t use them) vs consumption taxes (I don’t pay road tax because I don’t drive). We still ultimately need to pay for them somehow - I don’t drive, but I still depend on roads.
"The maintenance and improvement of these roads are funded through local council taxes, fees, and central government grants." - https://www.loc.gov/law/help/infrastructure-funding/englanda...
So rest assured that if you pay tax in the UK, you pay for roads along with other infrastructure and services.
And now for something completely different... I recall being told, by a man who knocked on my door in a college residence, that the van had detected my television. I had no television set. He asked to come in and look. I declined and he went away. Either enforcement by deception, or a creep using a pretext to get into womens' college rooms. Either way, bad!
I do miss the BBC website without ads and BBC iPlayer though. We had a television in later years (and a license).
It's probably because in the rest of Europe national broadcasters don't badger you to pay a license even if you don't actually own a TV set.
In the UK, I get threatening red-lettered envelopes every few years- because it's easier to harass me by mail than to try and figure out whether I watch TV or not.
And the threat is quite real. The broadcaster can send people to your house to snoop around, to see if you have a TV set or not. These agents are known to take liberties with the extend of their power (they will allege that they can enter your property whether you agree to let them in, or not) and there is basically nothing stopping them from stating that you are watching a TV programme as it is being broadcast if you have have equipment capable of doing so, such as a computer, or just a smartphone.
Basically, the TV licensing people in the UK are convinced that, if you say that you do not watch TV you are lying, and they treat you as an offender by default.
Does any of this happen in any other European country?
Also, my point was the advertising specifically, and attitude generally was dystopic, a la 1984. I am unaware of any other countries injecting that kind of narrative into their culture.
There are plenty of things to dislike about the UK, but that seems like an odd list of things to highlight.
The porn opt-in thing has been pushed back for a year or two and will be quietly shelved when it's realised it's unworkable.
The supposedly omnipresent CCTV invariably seems to have been lost or turned off if you actually need to figure out e.g. who has nicked your bike.
I will grant you the Brexit shit-show, however; that is genuinely horrific.
Actually it's 'indefinitely postponed now, after it was realised about the end of June that it was a violation of EU law (also, it was May's baby, and she's gone, Boris is a pro-porn kinda guy).
Most other countries with public broadcasting just roll the "TV license" into your taxes. CCTV everywhere (that the government can afford to put it) is commonplace in most countries (the USA being something of an exception).
Politicians acting like children is standard. In fact, I'd say that it's a desired feature of the Westminster System. Question Time/PMQs, although sometimes childish, serve an important role in the democratic process and open government. At least filibusters aren't commonplace, unlike in the USA.
Not labelling all expats like this but the vocal ones tend to be like this.
Went to Hawaii for couple weeks one year ago. Experienced culture shock.
NZ is probably best place in the world.
Better incomes, quality of living (houses are vastly better quality), infrastructure, entertainment, and weather.
The downsides is extreme weather, too big cities and much less nice people (historical backgrounds between kiwis and aussies are polar opposites).
Unless you, say, like to travel, or want to live in a place with people from a wide variety of backgrounds.
Also, NZ is pretty diverse. I work in Wellington and my team of 20 is from nine different countries and ethnicities, there's only four born Kiwi's in it (and the Kiwi's have different ethnicities as well some are Maori, others are Pakeha, and others are Indian Kiwis). I read about immigration statistics the other day and 8 of the top ten ethnicities which are granted permanent residents status are from Asia, the Pacific, and Africa, only two are from countries with a European majority (the UK and the US). I find Wellington to be more diverse than when I worked in San Francisco or London.
Culture wise, I keep saying NZ is like 50s in US - tons of new expats, everyone with decent background, keen to work hard. Most of Europe and US has now second generation foreigners which is not that interesting. Simple number: software teams I worked on only had 10-30% of kiwi's.
Our largest city is also our most diverse.
> Auckland is one of the world's most culturally diverse cities with the fourth most foreign-born population, an international study has found.
> With 39 per cent of its population born overseas, the city is revealed to be more diverse than Sydney, Los Angeles, London and even New York.
For some reason, the article you linked made up their own (very poor) measure of diversity. Imagine a city that's half white locals, and half white British immigrants (temporary or permanent). Would you consider such a city as diverse? The measure in that news article would put this city as being 50% diverse, even higher than Wellington's 39%.
There's also not the extreme rifts that we see elsewhere. If you look at reform for instance then there was broad cross party support for firearm reform, abortion reform, and euthanasia reform all in the last few months with both left and right parties voting for all of the above, something which would be pretty inconceivable in a country like the US where people seem to take opposite views on things just because they refuse to agree with the other side.
The population is largely free of extremists and have a culture of just getting on with things and working together, this comes from the extreme isolation which we've historically had. That leads to people being irreligious, educated, and practical.
It's very democratic and has very low levels of corruption, politicians are accessible and mostly trusted.
This is tempered by a high cost of living compared to wages.
Unfortunately we have seen a rise of US style far-right opinions and extreme views fed from the internet (like antivax and also a rise of disinformation and fake news). Ironically this may mean that politicians will be forced to become less accessible and democracy and freedoms may take a back seat to security as we've seen in the US. I hope not.
This is so true. People are just so multi-faceted here. I have a friend who's a developer, mechanic, investor, guitar player and a stripper.
And then there was other side of anit-vax, anti-gmo, anti-progress people... We've got some of that in NZ, but nowhere close so visible.
Unless you're a woman of reproductive age.
There's a new law which just passed the first reading in parliament (with 80% voting yes) to remove any restrictions so thankfully this will no longer be an issue and a woman will be able to make the decision without having to go to a doctor.
So, while the laws are old it's actually positive that there's so much cross party support for progressive reform. Another law which is in it's second reading is euthanasia reform which has similar support.
Staying in the UK for me is like staying in an abusive relationship or a job you hate. It made me deeply unhappy, so instead of complaining and bringing my friends down I found a life to love overseas.
Nope, the US is firmly in the Wants a Prize for Basic Decency category. Which is better than most other places, but that says more about other places than the US.
How could it be, if the mechanism behind the detector is not made public?
Prosecutor: This machine says you are guilty.
Defendant: How does that machine work?
Prosecutor: You aren't allowed to know.
Judge: Case dismissed.
So maybe they should have used TV-sniffing dogs instead? :)
Qualified immunity pretty much guarantees there's no punishment for any shenanigan as long as it can be plausibly presented to a judge as the police believing it's lawful (it doesn't need to be lawful, just belief is enough). The worst they risk is evidence being excluded - so no risk at all vs not searching.
Edit: To add some context:
Don't forget it was still common for people to be paid in cash, weekly. For those on lower incomes paying a monthly rental was often difficult and many of those cash employees had no need of a bank account. So weekly payments at the shop, collection agents and other options like coin op were far more common. You might get a visit every year or two to pay premiums on something like a life assurance policy, and a little hand written book was your only record of payment.
Some friends of mine who lived in London had an electricity meter that they had to recharge with cards they got from the corner shop. This was in 2005 or so. Do you know how common this is in London, or the rest of the UK, nowadays?
At the time I had found it at the very least a huge hassle. It was one of those things when I first got to the UK that I just couldn't comprehend.
Another one: when I got my first check from my job at the time (working at a warehouse) I went to the bank to collect it and the bank said I had to wait for a week to make sure the check wouldn't bounce and I think to ensure I wasn't money laundering. I couldn't believe what they were telling me, so I asked the people I worked with who confirmed it. Except, they said it wasn't a big deal: you just go to a shop, give them the check and they give you 80% of your salary. So you don't have to wait for a week.
So wait, I work all week, then the bank will treat me as a potential criminal and some financial parasite will suck off 20% of my salary as a consequence? And the people I worked with just shrugged it off. It was considered just normal. I told people Back Home (in Greece) about all this and they just didn't believe me.
This still happens, but only if you are far behind on your electricity bills, the supply company will eventually just say "ok, we will keep supplying you, but you must agree to have pre-paid meter installed at home". That way you can't be late on your payments anymore.
>>Another one: when I got my first check from my job at the time (working at a warehouse)
Wait....that was in the UK? And someone gave you a cheque? Those pretty much don't exist in the UK anymore, it's like an ancient relic of the past if you see one. The only situation when they are still used is for insurance payouts, for some reason the insurance companies still prefer to send you a cheque.
Thanks for clarifying. I'm guessing though the meters tend to stay in the homes even after the late-paying tennants have moved out?
>> Wait....that was in the UK? And someone gave you a cheque?
Yes, this was in the UK, in the South East, in 2005. It's been a while so I'm a bit fuzzy on the details but I think what happened was that I didn't have a bank account yet and so I was paid by cheque (thanks). Also, if I remember correctly, I refused to make use of the shops and I subsisted on the money I had in my Greek bank account (that I could access from UK terminals with my Greek bank card) until I got a UK bank account.
Some of my colleagues made use of the shops they recommended to me though, so either they too got paid by cheque or more likely they basically took a loan out on their salaries. Which sounds less mad, but only until you see some of the rates for payday loans (as I gather you must have).
As gambiting says they;re often put in if you get behind on bills, but if you have poor credit or move into a flat that already has them I think it can be pretty damn difficult to get off them. Like some utilities make a charge or ask a deposit to get a normal meter put in again, even if that wasn't down to you in the first place.
So if you've haven't got much you tend to lose out 2 or 3 ways.
Ah, thanks- I was wondering about that. I imagined it wouldn't be simple to take the meter off once it's on.
Not for the BBC license though: it was when TVs where expensive (in the 60s and 70s) and so some people could just rent one.
Probably sounds alien to US people, but UK was much poorer country, especially in workers areas...
See my sibling link. First thought of by the US International Telemeter Corporation in the late 40s or very early 50s.
My grandparents were forced to have one. My late grandfather had PTSD from fighting in WWII and could basically never hold down a job or make a good financial decision.
The TV rental business was very much like mobile phone contracts. For this reason I am not one of those people that buys a mobile phone on contract with the 'upgrade' every two years. The 'contract' your family were on for the TV was 'pay as you go' and I shudder to think how often your family could have paid for the TV, probably ten times over!
The fear of the TV detector van kept people tuned in to what important stuff was being disseminated on the state broadcaster that pretends to be independent. Sure there were home computers, VHS/Betamax and 'the wireless' back then but screen based entertainment was limited.
The TV had four channels (if you were lucky), so that meant news every night about the latest Cold War tensions, the misery of the Miner's Strike, the joy of the Poll Tax riots, the obsession with inflation, the latest dole figures, what privatisation was being flogged, 'Protect and Survive' and messages about how heroin screws you up.
Remember there was no such thing as society, you just had to hide behind your door and rely on the 'neighbourhood watch' signs for security. Crime really was a thing then, burglary a fear far worse than it should have been. The BBC very much reflected this but we remember 'Life on Earth' and tell ourselves how wonderful the BBC was.
Icing on the cake for this miserable era was the actual BBC. Radio 1 was 'Smashy and nicey' DJs that were quite depressing and BBC children's programming had presenters that have invariably been prosecuted in recent years for child abuse related offences.
But at least we had a national conversation. Remember 'who shot JR?'. Nowadays people would be saving the box set to watch later so you can't have this shared conversation, if anything it is anything but.
Maybe I'm misunderstanding, but that doesn't seem to me like it makes any sense. How could fear of being caught watching the TV without a licence make you more likely to watch the TV? It could make you more likely to pay, or less likely to have a TV, but those are entirely different.
All was revealed by Father Ted
That's not really fair is it? They started harsh because the country was a wreck when she was first elected. The miners went on strike because they were used to being able to topple governments by doing so. The obsession with inflation came about in contrast to the previous obsession with employment figures, yielding a country with full employment but sky-high inflation. Thatcher argued that was wrong and you could have full employment with low inflation: several boom economies since then have shown she was correct.
After Thatcher had won three elections Britain was a first world country again. You don't see many people pining for Britain in the 70s with all the strikes, electricity outages, bailouts and 3 day weeks. Blame her for the poll tax, sure, but even then those riots were by people who wanted unfair taxation: they defined "fair" as some people having to pay more for the exact same services than others do, something nobody tolerates in the commercial world.
Remember there was no such thing as society
You're selectively quoting Thatcher here, as her ideological enemies do so often. She was pointing out that when her opponents said "society will pay for it" there was no such thing as an abstract, disconnected, third party entity labelled "society" that would magically inject money into Britain - that what such people really meant was "my neighbours will be forced to pay for it".
Here's the full quote:
But it [people living on benefits/blaming society for their problems] went too far. If children have a problem, it is society that is at fault. There is no such thing as society. There is living tapestry of men and women and people and the beauty of that tapestry and the quality of our lives will depend upon how much each of us is prepared to take responsibility for ourselves and each of us prepared to turn round and help by our own efforts those who are unfortunate.
Doesn't sound so bad when you realise her alternative to the word "society" was "a living tapestry and men and women and people", that this tapestry is "beautiful" and that the quality of our lives depend on "how much each of us is .... prepared to turn round and help by our own efforts those who are unfortunate".
It's ironic yet totally unsurprising that her argument against imprecise socialist double-speak is now usually referenced via a selective quote designed to make her look inhumane.
I bought one once and evidently they managed to typo the house number, so our neighbour down the street who didn't have a TV kept getting the 'we know you have a TV but no license threatening letters
I researched this the last time TV detector vans came up (it seems to be on repeat on HackerNews a lot...), the legislation was repealed in 2013 so it's not done anymore. It was for sure this that was the real enforcement tool I imagine prior to 2013, rather than the mythical van. Much easier to just check the address against the TV sales database than randomly drive a fleet of vans around the entire country!
Is this for real? I remember thinking "dystopian as hell" when I heard about all the CCTVs in England, but this one takes the cake. I can at least see the points made by the other side of the CCTV argument, even though I very much disagree with them.
Why cannot one just buy a TV in England without giving out their personal info?
> The Wireless Telegraphy Act of 1967 (as amended) has been repealed, meaning that from 25 June 2013 onwards you no longer need to send us customer name and address details when you sell or rent out TV equipment. This also means your business no longer has to keep sales records to comply with the law on TV Licensing. If you don’t need these records for anything else you can destroy them from 25 June.
The silly thing was our house had a license, plus the TV in question was only ever used for a games console so never received TV signals
The law wasn't "you must hand over your details when buying a tv", it was "you must ask for details when selling a tv". Customers were free to supply false information.
...this is one of these utterly bizarre public sector things where the govt will hire a private company to chase down people (usually immigrants, unemployed, etc.) and give them a cut of whatever is looted...unsurprisingly, this has proved to be controversial in practice.
I have actually heard of people who called the police because they were being harassed by these people. All so some chinless wonder from Oxbridge can get paid £200k/year commissioning dogshit documentaries about Ethiopian trance music (the BBC massively underpays for talent but employs an unfathomably large number of middle managers).
I would love to see how this kind of system would work in Texas.
This actually happened to me! I (Mexican living in the UK) was at my rented flat with my father visiting. We were watching a movie in a TV I had (which I mainly used to watch DVDs or things from my computer) when suddenly someone knocked at the door. I usually never opened (I did not have many friends while living there) but given that my father was there, it would have been weird to leave the person ringing the bell while we were watching the movie.
Turned out to be one of those license guys. As an expat without knowledge of my rights, I did not know what to do and the bastard kept pushing... until I let him in. He "inspected" the TV where we were watching the movie, and I told him that yeah I had a TV but did only use it for watching DVDs. At the end, he "saw" that it did not have an antenna and he basically said that because of that, we were OK (it kind of felt as if he just wanted to get out of the awkward situation).
After he left, my father and I talked about how crazy was that system were they send mafiosos to check if you had a TV... first world problems.
Nonetheless, I have heard of them: forcing entry into people's homes, claiming to have powers of search, claiming to have power to issue fines, claiming to work on behalf of the police and that they can request arrest...it is kind of incredible.
Britain is a very odd place (I say this as a Brit).
I live outside the UK. Can I use BBC iPlayer?
BBC iPlayer is funded by the UK TV Licence
and its use is restricted to UK residents only.
I once received a letter from TV licensing after I bought a TV USB dongle off Amazon...
Eventually we gave up and just let them inundate our paper recycling. They've been comically useless. I am certain after 15 years of their incompetence, Capita have been responsible for many an unsafe conviction.
According to The Comptroller and Auditor General of the National Audit Office, "where the BBC still suspects that an occupier is watching live television but not paying for a licence, it can send a detection van to check whether this is the case. TVL detection vans can identify viewing on a non‐TV device in the same way that they can detect viewing on a television set. BBC staff were able to demonstrate this to my staff in controlled conditions sufficient for us to be confident that they could detect viewing on a range of non‐TV devices."
That device description is entirely consistent with a video camera, perhaps with a telescope in front of it, used for peering through people's windows.
Does this put the BBC at risk of violating anti-peeping-Tom legislation?
With a CRT you would be able to do this with <microsecond resolution as the scan lines went across.
In today's LCD world, I guess something similar could be done for a whole pixel-average of a whole frame, and then look at the time-series of that to correct for lag in digital television / internet etc..
In the US that'd be an illegal search without a warrant.
(1) A person who looks through a hole or opening, into, or otherwise views, by means of any instrumentality, including, but not limited to, a periscope, telescope, binoculars, camera, motion picture camera, camcorder, or mobile phone, the interior of a bedroom, bathroom, changing room, fitting room, dressing room, or tanning booth, or the interior of any other area in which the occupant has a reasonable expectation of privacy, with the intent to invade the privacy of a person or persons inside. This subdivision does not apply to those areas of a private business used to count currency or other negotiable instruments.
All the example places given are ones you'd likely be frequently undressed. I'm not sure I'd argue I have an expectation of privacy in the living room with the curtains open - people walking on the sidewalk by my house see in mine all the time.
You're trying to leverage a "peeping Tom" law to frustrate law enforcement, and that is unlikely to succeed.
The key qualifier here is "with the intent to invade the privacy of a person or persons inside." Law enforcement activities are unlikely to satisfy this prong.
But also, yes, the police can do basically anything and receive "Qualified Immunity" as actors of the state. Under the current interpretation of qualified immunity unless the police know what they are specifically doing isn't allowed then they have immunity, and the court system gets SUPER specific with the facts to the point that pretty much any action gets immunity. The state itself might be in trouble but that's a whole other mess of immunity.
I'm not a lawyer though and I'm almost certainly messing up some of the nuance here.
"Privacy" isn't (yet) a Federal civil or constitutional right so I'm not sure that qualified immunity would apply. The intent qualifier in the Peeping Tom law is probably sufficient since the intent is not to violate someone's privacy but to follow up on some sort of reasonable suspicion of criminal activity.
Also if people can see through your window doing ordinary (non-traditionally-"private") activities, there's the "plain view" doctrine -- although that's related to admission of evidence and not a prima facie criminal law violation. Nevertheless a Court is probably going to use similar reasoning when divining intent.
People's houses are especially sacred in US law and even flying a plane over and looking for excessive heat signatures to find Marijuana growers was deemed an illegal search (someone linked to that case in another comment)
"Naturally occurring plants" are illegal in all of the EU as well. Also it's a logical fallacy. Lots of naturally occurring things can have very bad effects on society. Caster beans are natural (and legal). Should we allow people to grow and process them and sell ricin by the vial - after all, it's a naturally occurring protein, right? Should we allow people to grow, process, and sell naturally occurring anthrax bacteria?
Blackout curtains (which I recommend for other reasons), would work best though.
It does look like something crazy that could be made to work reasonably well with a lot of polishing.
You could also collect unfocused light emissions, such at those reflecting from walls and ceiling, and correlate their luminance and chroma fluctuations over time with those of live TV. This would not intelligibly perceive non TV light signals, and so be less of a privacy concern. Additionally this would work if the TV's image is not visible.
The point of the 'detection' was to just see if a TV was in operation and not to see what was being watched.
In the 1950s there wasn't much else on British television sets other than the BBC, right?
(iPlayer is not important to this discussion but complicates things a bit).
Ever seen an app that can identify what song is playing?
Generally they specify that it's not a problem if you do not intend to violate anyone's privacy and don't take any steps to improve your sightline; conversely, if you intend to look into someone's house and you take any active measure to do so, you're in violation.
I filled out the form to get my refund and you have to choose an option for why you don't need a TV. e.g. you are moving, you are in the military, gone blind or something etc etc. Not an option to tick "I don't watch TV".
Anyway, I got the refund and within a week I was getting threatening letters from them saying I don't have a TV licence!
Great joined up IT guys. The letters have continued at a rate of one or two a month ever since.
I could probably make them stop by calling them, but I already filled out the form, I got my refund... I don't see why I should waste more of time helping them out.
I expect at some point someone is going to come to my flat and request to see in the flat to check I'm not watching TV without a licence. If they do they won't be getting let in.
It's the tone of the letters that is most annoying, they are quite threatening and they try to be intimidating. I can laugh it off and just bin there nonsense and ignore it, but I could see some people getting upset / intimated into paying, which is sad.
I kept getting these letters for years, even though I did not have a TV, or antenna.
A licence is required if you watch live TV on any channel.
But indeed, watching any channel on TV (not just the BBC) requires a licence.
If you’re watching live TV, you need to be covered by a TV Licence:
a. if you’re watching on TV or on an online TV service
b. for all channels, not just the BBC
I would think that Netflix and Amazon are considered on demand services.
iPlayer isn't either, but they've recently put in an exception for that.
https://www.tvlicensing.co.uk/faqs/FAQ95 is pretty clear that I have to pay.
Why, ethically, should I be obliged to pay TVLA (and therefor the BBC) for something they didn't create or facilitate?
That is incorrect. It doesn't matter whether the content was paid for by the licence or not. If you are watching live TV, you need a licence.
It doesn't matter if you're streaming it, watching it via a service like All 4, ITV Hub, etc. If it is live TV, you need a licence.
Whether they watch it or not is not relevant. It's a nation-wide service at their disposal.
Either it's worth it to have, like a dam or a highway system or whatever, and it's ok for people to pay for it in taxes, or it's not, and it should close.
Not everywhere it's all about the individual and their whims. If the majority (well, through elected representatives) wishes to have and sustain a public good (whether a public broadcaster, or national health service, or arts grants, or whatever), individuals have no other say on the matter.
Some countries believe in public goods, and in maintaining through taxes infrastructure to make citizens more educated, informed, cultivated, etc. If someone is a brut and could not care less, they don't get to dictate to the nation not to have those services.
E.g. the German example of the tax for the national broadcaster a fellow commenter mentions:
"Any household in Germany is legally obliged to pay this quarterly fee, regardless of whether or not you watch the TV channels or listen to the radio stations covered by it. It also covers media consumption online via on-demand services such as media players, streaming services accessed online via computer or smartphone, as well as in-car audio.
Shared households are only required to pay this per household, so 4 students living together for example would only be liable for paying the fee once."
In Australia we fund the ABC and SBS through tax, which have charters requiring a certain amount of locally produced programming, and serve as publicly owned news media (which I think is in the public interest so long as the government isn't exerting too much in the way of influence), as well as programming that could be considered too niche to be profitable otherwise.
When I was a teenager SBS was how I was exposed to some really good stuff I wouldn't have been able to see otherwise because it was anime or foreign language films.
Edit: It took a reread for me to realize that you were actually arguing in favor of it. I do see your point about positive externalities, but I'm still not convinced it's a good trade off overall.
Well, life is more than the base "requirements". Humans are not wild animals that only understand bare utility, so some societies/states can acknowledge that and also provide some "non-requirements".
Besides TV (and cultural products in general) is not universally viewed as mere "entertainment", but also as information, culture building, citizen development, and so on. Some nation states do trust themselves to have capable people to provide quality programming -- whether many of their folks just care to watch reality shows and entertainment or not.
If you live in the UK and own a TV you must pay the BBC whether you want the BBC or not!
I'm one of the minority who don't own a TV in the UK and even then they make it their business to inform me every two years about all the different ways they can invade my home, fine me extortionate sums and send me to prison for the crime of being caught owning television signal receiving equipment without paying them.
Given how nasty all the smart TVs are these days, when I eventually want such luxuries I plan to eventually get a huge monitor and just play netflix or whatever on it... it would be interesting to see their response to that.
I suspect they basically mean the reception of any terrestrial RF TV signal not really caring about it being live, but due to not wanting to go to the trouble of differentiating between BBC and freeview?
> In this regulation, any reference to receiving a television programme service includes a reference to receiving by any means any programme included in that service, where that programme is received at the same time (or virtually the same time) as it is received by members of the public by virtue of its being broadcast or distributed as part of that service.
If you are only watching Netflix / Amazon etc on Demand programs you do not need a TV licence.
This isn't true.
> If you’re watching live TV, you need to be covered by a TV Licence: [...] for all channels, not just the BBC
In the UK you pay the BBC for not watching the BBC.
> If you’re watching live TV, you need to be covered by a TV Licence: [...] for all channels, not just the BBC
Is this not because part of the license fee goes to the upkeep of the transmitters and other infrastructure which all terrestrially broadcast channels use?
I remember at uni though having to have a TV license, even not having a TV, to watch iPlayer. And there is no such thing as a communal license in halls.
So the tax lives on in this archaic form instead and every now and then when the Tories are in power they try and defund or threaten the BBC somehow. Usually within a year of getting elected, and then there's a backlash and they have to back down.
The latest wheeze was to force the BBC to get pensioners to pay, and they managed to pull it off by getting the public to blame the BBC instead of the government.
Personally I think that it should be organized like a tax nonetheless, because if a public broadcaster is a benefit to society, it's a benefit to those who watch just as much as to those who don't watch, similar to how those who don't enter medical school will still enjoy the availability of doctors. A precedence exists, in Germany the Finanzamt is happily collecting a tax-like thing on behalf of the established churches from their members, without that ever having led anyone to suggest that the churches were controlled by the government. The investure controversy isn't exactly still lingering.
Although they're mostly funded by ads and selling their programming now.
Channel 4 is a bit of an odd one, as it's publically owned but not publically funded.
You need a licence for any device that you watch live tv as it's broadcast. You need a licence to watch live tv, no matter where it's broadcast from.
The wording of the law says "installed or used to receive", so in theory you need a licence if you have eg a tv plugged into an aerial. They don't prosecute those cases any more.
You don't need a licence if you're not watching live tv. So you can watch all the ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 catchup as much as you like. Or netflix, amazon, HBO, etc services.
People pay for it because the BBC is generally pretty good. It's stuck in a weird political landscape where some MPs want the BBC to be independent and not be funded by a licence fee, but those same MPs refuse to allow the BBC to operate commercially.
A longer term plan for the BBC would be welcome, and that's probably going to be a subscription service at some point.
Plug in and tune only the radio stations - that doesn't require a licence (radio isn't TV even when carried on a TV network, the TV effectively becomes a DAB radio).
The whole law is antiquated, now you don't need them or their transmission equipment. I do believe that if they move to a subscription model they will lose many customers, especially those with Netflix etc (I don't even know if the aerial cable in my flat works or even own a tv, I use a 43" monitor if I do want to watch anything).
If you own a licence and you're away from home you're allowed to use a device powered only by internal batteries to watch TV -- this is covered by your home licence.
Yes, this leads to ridiculous situations. You watch live tv on your phone? Fine, until you plug in your phone to charge and you're now breaking the law. I don't think anyone has been prosecuted for this type of use.
We used to have B&W licences, and people with colour VCrs but B&W tvs were told that they were receiving in colour and so needed a colour licence.
This kind of thing makes TV licencing unpopular.
The inspector got me at my apartment once and was certain that I needed to pay the tax. I invited him into my apartment and he saw I had no TV, radio, or Internet, and left very disappointed.
It is legal to use a TV set without a licence, so long as you do not watch any TV programmes live. So it's fine to connect it to a laptop and use it as a monitor, or listen to radio programmes through it, for example.
Law was changed in the last few years to make this applicable to on-demand content too from BBC iPlayer
If your blind you get a 50% discount, but if you have a B&W TV you get a 66% discount?
Blind people are being robbed blind...
Anecdotally I've noticed a sea change in general-topic UK discussion fora over the past five years or so. It used to be the case that anyone criticizing the BBC was downvoted to oblivion, but the old reverence for it as an institution is very much a minority view now.
EDIT: it's not just us, by the way; the US is actually in a small minority of countries who've never had a TV tax.
The funding model behind the BBC is a bit suspect - I'd prefer a direct grant from the government.
Alternatives are not particularly palatable - it becomes a department of the government, or has to self fund and becomes just another commercial provider of dross.
Also I haven't heard about the BBC becoming less popular, do you have any evidence for this? As far as I recall, BBC 1 is still the nation's favourite channel.
It would be interesting to know how you voted in the EU referendum, as I tend to find this sort of anti-BBC-ness the greatest amongst Leave voters for no apparent logical reason.
I stopped owning a TV way back in 2004, specifically out of disgust at the BBC piling in to the property bubble insanity along with everyone else. If that's what "noncommercial" buys you, I don't really see the point.
And I think the drift is less about the popularity of BBC TV channels versus non-BBC TV channels, than about the move to streaming and other Internet versus TV in general.
thats not the BBC then is it.
I don't really like it. There's no opt-out any longer. And the content is predictably all-consuming leftist.
Other than as a news organization, another part of why it exists is to purchase and stimulate the developments of home-grown content (Little Mosque on the Praire, Schitt's Creek, Kim's Convenience, etc). For this reason, it has sometimes raised eyebrows in the past when it has purchased licenses to air mainstream Hollywood films, especially if doing so competes against private broadcasters like CTV.
I actually bought my very first TV (since I discovered I was able to download South Park and The Simpsons and watch it on my computer in the early 2000s) a few months ago hoping to make the cut off so I would be able to say I'd paid the old license at least once in my lifetime (the license is divided into two payments per year), but it seems like the webshop I bought it from was nice enough to not supply my address info to the licensing office in time as I haven't received any bill. Oh well.
Norwegian public service bias to the left: ~1/5
Swedish public service bias to the left: ~4/5
Interestingly enough ‘NHK Kara Kokumin Wo Mamoru Tou’ (The ‘Protect Citizenry from NHK’ Party) won a seat in Japanese parliament at the recent national election!
Be it Japan or UK, it is quite the anachronism to mandate enforcement of even a government broadcaster’s business model. Doing so regardless of how much use or benefit you get, makes it a sort of regressive tax.
What if you buy a TV for "offline" use only (i.e. Nintendo Switch)?
You don't need a licence if you don't watch live tv as it's broadcast.